Cook: Stokes deserves success

Ben Stokes has worked hard for his success, according to England captain Alastair Cook

Published: Friday 29th May 2015 by Caroline Stephenson

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Incoming coach Trevor Bayliss is excited already about the developing talent in the England team he will take charge of this Ashes summer.

In the class of 2015 the Australian is about to inherit, it is hard to get away from Ben Stokes as his likely star pupil after the all-rounder’s match-winning exploits in the first Investec Test at Lord’s.

On the eve of the second and final match of the series against New Zealand at Headingley, captain Alastair Cook was not about to dissuade anyone with high expectations for Stokes.

Asked if the 23-year-old is a hero in the making, Cook said: “If he plays like that, yes.

“It was a great Test match for Ben … he stood up.”

Stokes has had his ups and downs on and off the field since his maiden hundred against Australia in Perth almost 18 months ago, but delivered at HQ with the fastest century ever seen there, as well as a first-innings 92 and three wickets.

Cook stresses it is the result of discipline, as well as ability, having shared a crucial second-innings stand with Stokes last weekend.

“We know how much potential he has – the amount of talent you see in the nets and his attitude is fantastic,” he said.

“He thoroughly deserved that Test match for the amount of hard work he has put into his game.

“He has had a slightly rocky road, in terms of having a great series in Australia when we struggled but a bit of a tough time after that.

“But the way he has worked at his game and improved, it was just a fantastic Test match.

“To be there at the other end, when he was playing like that, was a real privilege.”

New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum has been leading discussions in the past few days about how to stop Stokes.

“We’ve had a good chat about him,” he said.

“I thought he played two brilliant innings … the way he grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck.

“It’s not always easy to do that when you are young in international cricket.

“To have that confidence to do that is not an easy thing.”

The response from the Kiwis will be interesting.

“We have to be consistent with our plans,” said McCullum.

“I thought our plans were fine – we just didn’t execute them how we could have.

“When you are playing against someone who is that destructive, as someone like Ben Stokes can be, you need to make sure you are meticulous in those plans.

“We have tinkered with them.

“I expect us to bowl better. It doesn’t guarantee you’ll get them out, but our plans will be slightly more refined.”

England supporters will be anticipating more fireworks from Stokes.

Cook, meanwhile, predicts Yorkshire’s own Adam Lyth will be ready to prove himself after a debut in which he made just seven and 12.

“He’s fitted in really well – he loves being around the environment,” said Cook.

“He’s a fantastic fighter … he got a very good ball in the first innings at Lord’s, and a pretty good ball in the second innings.

“That’s what can happen against world-class bowlers.

“A Lord’s debut is a big occasion, so he will feel a bit more familiar back home here.

“Now he’s a Test match into his career, it would not surprise me if he made that big score.”

Published: Friday 29th May 2015 by Caroline Stephenson

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